The Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 is a 15.6in laptop, built for style and performance too, and available for only a little over £500

Both in terms of looks and sheer build quality, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 is in a different class to any other budget laptop in our round-up.

Its glossy piano black finish and shiny metallic logo may not be the most innovative design - and also a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 looks and feels so much better than the competition that you’d expect to pay a lot more than the £499 asking price.

For this laptop Lenovo promises "Zero embarrassment factor" - and has most certainly delivered on that promise, if you can in any way quantify that label.

Performance of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 is also good, thanks to a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M processor and 4GB of DDR3 memory.

The Core i3 350M chip used here is very similar to the Core i5-430M used in Avent’s Sienna 510, sharing the same clock speed and general architecture but lacking the Core i5 chip’s Turbo Boost feature. That means the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 is not able to ramp up single-core speed to 2.53GHz on demand, like the Advent Sienna 510.

In our tests, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 achieved a decent score of 100 points in WorldBench 6 - just a single point behind the Advent and just two behind the Acer Aspire 5742.

Gaming performance however, is considerably better, thanks to the inclusion of a discrete nVidia GeForce 310M processor which can deliver around three times the graphics speed of Intel’s integrated graphics.

Its 48Wh removable battery provides reasonably good battery life of a little over 3.5 hours (213 mins), which is about average for the price.

Unlike the Medion Akoya P6624, The Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 can’t turn off the external GPU on demand and therefore uses up more battery power by keeping it powered up all the time.

A recessed switch on the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 can be poked with a biro or similar implement to commence system recovery the system and row of dedicated illuminated buttons offer access to multimedia controls, fan speed and battery-saving options.

There are also screen display presets for use when watching films, working on documents or playing games.

The keyboard is of the Scrabble-tile stylebut with rounded bottoms to the keys as favoured by Lenovo. USB 2.0 ports are available on both sides of the chassis and an HDMI port is included along with standard analogue audio jacks.

You also get an SD/SDHC card reader and, uniquely here, an ExpressCard 34 port.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?

Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 M37AFUK: Specs

  • 2.26GHz Intel Core i3 350M
  • 15.6in gloss LED-backlit display
  • 1366 x 768 resolution
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 7200rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 310M with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic input
  • 2 x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA/USB 2.0 combo
  • Super Multi DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • SD/SDHC, ExpressCard 34 card slots
  • webcam
  • 48Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 377 x 248 x 36mm
  • 2560g
  • 2.26GHz Intel Core i3 350M
  • 15.6in gloss LED-backlit display
  • 1366 x 768 resolution
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 7200rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 310M with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic input
  • 2 x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA/USB 2.0 combo
  • Super Multi DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • SD/SDHC, ExpressCard 34 card slots
  • webcam
  • 48Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 377 x 248 x 36mm
  • 2560g

OUR VERDICT

The Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 offers a well-balanced set of features, performance and battery life put together with impressive build-quality and superior styling for the price.

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